I hope you’re all getting into the spirit of Samhain and doing your best to ward off the evil spirits (or inviting them over for drinks and merriment). Today’s foray into the art of verse is brought to you by the lovely Kathryn Balteff.
Enjoy, share, and monitor the mini chocolate bars…they can sneak up on you.
I often wonder why
was I sent to this place?
Tending the magic left behind.
Struggling to cultivate
and coerce it into
petals of diaphanous colors
with only lemon salt tears,
hot love, and strawberry memories
I keep on.
What else would you have me do?
Most nights my feet are bound to earth.
yet tethered still.
But tonight . . .
Moonbeams unravel the ribbons
and I tango alone along the Milky Way
to my tryst with Orion.
The sea hears my heart,
but the stars
Kathryn Balteff is a poet, writer, and artist who currently moonlights as a used book, gift, and coffee shop owner, although over the years she’s also worked as an educator, sheep farmer, veterinary technician, and veterinary practice manager. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Southern Maine and an MA in English from Oakland University.
Humans can be profoundly affected by our geography and by the environments we inhabit. We experience differences in our inner thought processes, comfort level, and overall spiritual and physical health depending on where we are in the world.
Some places unsettle us and can even cause physical reactions (Las Vegas does that to me). These environments rub against the grain of our constitution and basal genetic code, causing us to feel uncomfortable in ways we can quite pinpoint, anxious to not dawdle and even frantic in trying to find your equilibrium in every passing moment.
But sometimes you find yourself in a place that seems to run roots up through your feet from the minute you land. Those places that feed your soul, encourage your balance, and fill your blood with calm and connected joy are a rarity. It can feel like the land itself speaks to the deep timelessness of your stardust and reminds you of who you are deep in the marrow.
I’ve found only two or three such places in my short time here on this earth.
The green valleys of hillside walls and
twisting archaic roads, tucked like snakes between.
Veining through time-forgotten land.
Vibrant and wet.
The countryside sewn with patches of heather and stone
And endless fields lit from Godspeak skies
give the feeling of being an island apart
from the insanity of the world
Stone fences encroached upon by lusty green growth,
Hugged tight to the tepid handy work of man,
as if to say that magic still breathes here,
and it will overtake our fleeting pillars.
My lungs indulge the mist of Loch Skeen’s mare.
And shoulders let go the weight of the lies I have lived.
Where the loamy peat and woodsmoke hearth
of cottages rendered from stone and thatch,
Nestle into knolls dotted with contented woolen faces
Call to me in dreams, once and again over,
She settles into my bones,
and fills my blood
I know this land somewhere deep in my veins.
This is where my heart lies
She is the place that calls my soul home.
The gray shores of rock and sand,
The moor I miss is more than I am used to yearning for.
I’m a novelist. And believe you me, I’ll be getting into some hard-core, novel-in-a-month advice the next couple weeks, but until then….let’s talk about poetry.
(BECAUSE I KNOW YOU’RE ALL PREPARING SOME AWESOME POEMS TO SEND MY WAY TO BE CONSIDERED FOR THE 2019-2020 ANTHOLOGY, RIGHT? STOP SHIFTING UNCOMFORTABLY AND SEND ME THOSE VERSES. I’m really quite lovely and so excited to read your stuff. I’m a big, snuggly, softy posing as a hard-nosed writer.)
Long before I wrote novels, I was a poet. In retrospect, I’m kinda amazed at how easily I would could a page with stanza after stanza. It took time to develop, but the poems progressed from what would rhyme to what would bleed just the right color. My poetry led to some hurtful, terrible and cathartic things on the page. Words were raw and emotional in ways I never knew they could be.
Each one of those poems pulls me back to the time and events that they were borne from. I remember the exact person that inspired each. I can sometimes even remember the exact night they were written. That’s powerful stuff.
Words, in their inherent singularity, are powerful. One word can command meaning, history, and intention just by its existence on the page. Words can change and shape how we experience our human existence throughout time.
Knee-deep in a novel, it becomes a challenge to capture the same essence I once had in writing poetry. I’m too used to telling a story in pages, not lines. Heavy worded and filled with the need to explore each step of a character’s journey, I can sometimes lose the contrite honesty of being a woman of few words.
Whether you write fiction or non-fiction, novels or short stories, practicing poetry is an excellent skill for all writers. It will improve the preciseness of your writing.
How do you say the most with the fewest?
Here are some exercises (that’s right you beautiful, wordy bastards, I’m giving you homework) to help you boil the most important elements of an idea down into its thickest, richest concentration.
Throw some words down from this exact moment of your existence and make each one count.
Do it fearlessly, because there’s no judgment between you and the page.
Send it to me, or don’t but keep it and use it to understand your skill and how you can grow even further in your art.
*Describe the chair you’re sitting in in six words. Try four. How about two?
*Describe the person in your chair (yes that’s you—maybe it’s two of you—I don’t judge) in six words. Try four. How about two?
*Describe the best day of your life in six words or less:
Good morning! Today’s slice of life comes from the talented Jennifer Carr.
A previous contributor, Jennifer lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico with her partner and two children. She is an EMT, Firefighter and Poet. When she is not working at the local hospital or firehouse, she spends way too much time reading and writing poetry.
Her poetry has been published in print by Triumph House Poetry With a Purpose and in many anthologies. Her poetry has been published on-line most recently in the Organic Journal ‘Under the Basho’ in the Modern Haiku section.
Jennifer loves flying by her own wings and looks for any opportunity to soar to new heights. Don’t forget to follow her on Twitter @PoetryHaiku13 (https://twitter.com/Poetryhaiku13).
Jennifer can be found on Facebook as Jennifer Carr Munoz or on Instagram.
Enjoy this moment of life, and the undeniable love that makes the world go round.
This is that golden hour, wherein if you want a chance at something, you’d better stand up and grab it.
You know those moments– those deciding moments that can change the course of our lives for better or worse. That instant you have to take hold of an opportunity, say yes to that job, kiss that girl, let go of that dream, grab hold of another.
Today is the final call for poetry submissions for the 2019 Beautiful Stuff Poetry Anthology: “No Small Things”. I’ve already gathered an amazing collection of beautiful stuff and am only looking for a few more slots to fill.
While this isn’t as life-changing as a new job or as thrilling as a kiss, it can be a launching place to your belief in yourself and your work. It can be the one step closer to your dream. It could be the declaration, anonymous or not, you’ve always wanted to write to that girl, or the world at large. A lightening of the weight in your soul, so to speak.
So take a chance. I’ve made it a safe place to land. Submit your poetry via these guidelines and see where this last call can take you. Submissions will close December 1, 2019. The anthology’s expected release date is January of 2020.
Here’s the boring part:
Poems may not exceed 80 lines, must be previously unpublished (unless if it was on authors own website), and must be the original work of the author. Please send all submissions to: firstname.lastname@example.org, or via The Beautiful Stuff website: (https://thebeautifulstuff.blog/contact/) with the subject line “VerseDay Submission Last Call”.
Please include the title of your poem, your name, and a short bio in the body of your email. You may submit as many times as you would like and up to three poems per email, but please no repeated work sent. If your work is a simultaneous submission please let me know.
There is no fee for submitting.
Every submission will be read and, if selected, the author will be notified of the date of their poem’s publication on The Beautiful Stuff. Promotional links will be provided to make it easier to spread the word about your poetry.
Poets selected for the anthology will receive a free copy of the finished book and the option to purchase more at a discounted rate.
You may email me or message me via Facebook with any questions or concerns you have about the contest rules and submissions.
That’s the long and the short of it. So send me something good. Give me guts and heart, all the dark and light of your thoughts. I look forward to reading your work!
I’m excited to be featuring the astounding and talented Kathryn Balteff. Residing in a state that I have a deep, personal love for (just ask Destiny), she was gracious enough to send in some of her beautiful work that I will be featuring throughout October and into November.
Kathryn is a poet, writer, and artist who currently moonlights as a used book, gift, and coffee shop owner, although over the years she’s also worked as an educator, sheep farmer, veterinary technician, and veterinary practice manager. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Southern Maine and an MA in English from Oakland University.
While she is mostly known for her poetry, she also pens essays, fiction, and killer to-do lists. Drawing inspiration from the landscape, sea, and the cosmos, Kathryn often can be found wandering the rocky trails near her home along the coast of Downeast Maine with her husband and their collie dog, Lady Kate.
Today I chose her poem “Letting Go” as a breather for a lot of the serious business going on here lately. Read, enjoy, and support Kathryn by sharing it around!
I feel the winds
Deep in my gut they rise
Tickling up dust
Particles from items long forgotten
on the floor of my heart.
Maybe they were just tucked away
so I could pretend not to see them as they languished there . . .
is of no consequence.
The winds have come again.
I feel their swirling momentum
reaching up into my being
They spin me
I can’t know where they will take me.
I only know —
I will not hold fast to the binding post of the closest excuse
I will stretch open my arms to embrace the power the winds bring
I will raise my face to the sky triumphant
I will soar.
Hello writers and readers. I hope you all enjoyed a long weekend and had some time to yourselves for writing or exploring your creativity. I have been balancing the new school schedule as well as social engagements, old-dog vet appointments, and enrichment programs for my kiddos. I’ve been logging extra miles in preparation for the Colorado Ragnar Relay and juggling the details of 12 individuals coordinating 36 hours of their lives together.
What I haven’t been doing is writing.
Or even brainstorming.
It doesn’t bode well for a blogger who touts being a writer to not write. So what does one do, when life around her seems to sap every moment? She prioritizes and shakes off some of the unimportant to feed her soul. After all, that’s what I’m always preaching to you fine people to do, right? I can’t very well tell you how to walk the road while I muck around in the ditch.
So I’m back to the computer this week, setting up some goals for the year. My 40th trip around the sun should have something monumental yes? Besides my body falling apart and gravity being especially cruel on all my jiggly bits? I need something uplifting to balance it all out. So I’m making lists and culling the overgrown herd of obligatory adulting.
We all get overwhelmed and distracted with life and let our time to write, or to paint, or knit or whatever it is that feeds our bigger brain get kicked off the schedule. My hope is that we understand how empty that missing piece leaves us and work to fill it back in again.
As this is my case, I will only be contributing to this blog four times a month (2 blog posts, 2 VerseDays) in an effort to put more of my time towards my novels and the new Poetry Anthology coming out in the Spring.
I’m not sure who will miss my weekly thought purges, but rest assured, I will still be darkening your door, just a smidge less.
Please feel free to send me your poetry or flash fiction, I’ve extended the deadline to December 31st for inclusion into the poetry anthology, “No Small Things”. Even if you’ve contributed before, I’d love to hear more. Thanks for your time and consideration!
Until next week, go work on your stuff! I want to know your time isn’t being wasted and that we’re all doing well by ourselves and our passions. Reach out to me, if you do have a spare moment, and let me know what you’ll be doing to prioritize your creativity in the next few months!